Textualism and the Equity of the Statute

101 Colum. L. Rev. 1 (2001)

127 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2016

Date Written: January 2001


Recent scholarship has sought to challenge textualist interpretive methods by reviving the ancient English doctrine of the equity of the statute-a doctrine that treated atexual, purposive interpretation as an inherent attribute of judicial authority. In particular, modern proponents contend that this common law doctrine, rather than the currently prevailing faithful agent theory, more accurately reflects the original understanding of "the judicial Power of the United States." In this Article, Professor Manning argues that the English equity of the statute doctrine failed to survive the structural innovations that differentiated the U.S. Constitution from its English common law ancestry. He further contends that while early American history is somewhat mixed, the faithful agent theory came to be the dominant federal interpretive theory quite early in the republic. Finally, Professor Manning argues that, contrary to the critics of textualism, current rejection of the equity of the statute will not lead to rigid and literal interpretive methods.

Suggested Citation

Manning, John F., Textualism and the Equity of the Statute (January 2001). 101 Colum. L. Rev. 1 (2001), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2849561 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2849561

John F. Manning (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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